Francis Galton

Francis Galton : Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry

4.5 (2 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days
When will my order arrive?


If not for the work of his half cousin Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory might have met a somewhat different fate. In particular, with no direct evidence of natural selection and no convincing theory of heredity to explain it, Darwin needed a mathematical explanation of variability and heredity. Galton's work in biometry-the application of statistical methods to the biological sciences-laid the foundations for precisely that. This book offers readers a compelling portrait of Galton as the "father of biometry," tracing the development of his ideas and his accomplishments, and placing them in their scientific context.

Though Michael Bulmer introduces readers to the curious facts of Galton's life-as an explorer, as a polymath and member of the Victorian intellectual aristocracy, and as a proponent of eugenics-his chief concern is with Galton's pioneering studies of heredity, in the course of which he invented the statistical tools of regression and correlation. Bulmer describes Galton's early ambitions and experiments-his investigations of problems of evolutionary importance (such as the evolution of gregariousness and the function of sex), and his movement from the development of a physiological theory to a purely statistical theory of heredity, based on the properties of the normal distribution. This work, culminating in the law of ancestral heredity, also put Galton at the heart of the bitter conflict between the "ancestrians" and the "Mendelians" after the rediscovery of Mendelism in 1900. A graceful writer and an expert biometrician, Bulmer details the eventual triumph of biometrical methods in the history of quantitative genetics based on Mendelian principles, which underpins our understanding of evolution today.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 376 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 31mm | 658g
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • 17 Line drawings, black and white; 3 Halftones, black and white
  • 0801874033
  • 9780801874031
  • 1,698,658

Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsChronologyIntroduction1. A Victorian LifeFamily Background and EducationTravelsEastern Europe, 1840The Near East, 1845-46South West Africa, 1850-52Vacation ToursScientific CareerThe Royal Geographical SocietyExploration in Central AfricaThe British AssociationInventionsMeteorologyHeredity and EvolutionPsychologyPhotographyFingerprintsCharacterization2. Hereditary Ability"Hereditary Talent and Character" (1865)Hereditary Genius (1869)English JudgesComparison of Results for All ProfessionsTransmission through Male and Female LinesThe Reception of Hereditary GeniusNature and NurtureEnglish Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (1874)"The History of Twins" (1875)Galton's HereditarianismEpilogueAppendix: Number of Kinsfolk3. EugenicsGaltonian EugenicsLater History of EugenicsBritainAmericaGermanyThe Rationale of Eugenics4. The Mechanism of HeredityGalton's Knowledge of Heredity in 1865Biparental InheritanceThe Non-Inheritance of Acquired CharactersThe Law of ReversionDarwin's Provisional Hypothesis of PangenesisReversionThe Inheritance of Acquired CharactersXenia and TelegonyGalton's Reaction to PangenesisGalton's Political Metaphor of PangenesisAn Experimental Test of PangenesisGalton's Theory of Heredity in the 1870sSimilarities Between RelativesGalton's Ideas on Heredity in 1889DiscussionWeismann and the Continuity of the Germ-PlasmDe Vries's Theory of Intracellular PangenesisSegregationBlending InheritanceFleeming Jenkin and the Problem of Swamping5. Four Evolutionary ProblemsThe Domestication of AnimalsThe Evolution of GregariousnessThe Fertility of HeiressesThe Extinction of SurnamesThe Evolution of Sex"A Theory of Heredity" (1875)Three Unpublished Essays6. The Charms of StatisticsQuetelet and the Average ManGalton and the Normal DistributionHereditary Genius (1869)Natural Inheritance (1889)The Importance of the Normal Distribution to GaltonGalton's QuincunxRegression and the Bivariate Normal DistributionCorrelationTwo Concepts of ProbabilityThe Development of StatisticsAppendix: Regression Theory7. Statistical Theory of HeredityA Theory Based on Pangenesis"Typical Laws of Heredity" (1877)An Experiment with Sweet PeasSolution of the ProblemJohannsen's Experiments with BeansThe Inheritance of Human HeightThe Advantages of HeightThe Regression of Offspring on Mid-ParentKinshipFraternal RegressionVariability in Fraternities and Co-Fraternities8. The Law of Ancestral HeredityGalton's Formulation of the Ancestral LawGalton's Derivation of the Law in 1885Derivation of the Law in 1897Galton's Law as It Should Have BeenKarl Pearson's Interpretation of the Ancestral LawThe Ancestral Law and MendelismWeldon and MendelismPearson and MendelismYule's Reconciliation of the Law with MendelismAppendix: The Regression on Mid-Ancestral Values9. Discontinuity in EvolutionGalton's Theory of Discontinuous EvolutionStability of TypePerpetual RegressionSelection ExperimentsThe Fallacy of Perpetual Regression"Discontinuity in Evolution" (1894)Speciation and SaltationDe Vries and The Mutation TheoryPunctuated Equilibria10. BiometryThe Demonstration of Natural SelectionThe Career of W. F. R. WeldonThe Common ShrimpThe Shore CrabStabilizing Selection in SnailsBumpus's SparrowsMultivariate SelectionQuantitative GeneticsThe Multiple Factor HypothesisThe Hardy-Weinberg LawMendelian Theory of Quantitative GeneticsThe Response to SelectionCodaAppendix: Multivariate Selection TheorySelection Differentials and Selection GradientsThe Response to SelectionReferencesIndex
show more

Review quote

Chapters on Galton's early scientific career... are followed by meatier chapters on statistical theory of heredity, the law of ancestral heredity, discontinuity in evolution, and biometry. For historians of science the book provides a clear roadmap to what Galton did, or said he did, and what he thought, or what he believed he thought. -- Hamilton Cravens * Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences * Michael Bulmer's book is only partially about Galton the man. It begins with a biographical chapter but most of the book describes and evaluates Galton's quantitative work... Bulmer guides us skillfully through a great deal of the beginnings of our science. We are where we are because of the labors of people like Francis Galton. Science is not the same thing as progress but Galton's story is relevant to understanding something about the way in which science is related to progress. -- R.J. Berry * Human Genetics *
show more

About Michael G. Bulmer

Michael Bulmer is Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford University.
show more

Rating details

2 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 50% (1)
4 50% (1)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X